Q. Can you tell me about the Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle? In particular, I would like to know when Winchester stopped making it. Are replicas available?
A. Winchester’s Model 1873 was an instant success when it was introduced. The 1873 was an improvement over the first famous Winchester lever-action—the brass-framed Model 1866 “Yellowboy.” The 1873 was offered only with an iron frame and was initially chambered in the powerful, then-new .44 Winchester Center Fire (WCF), also called the .44-40 Win.
Winchester manufactured the Model 1873 from 1873 through 1919, producing about 720,000 in all. Model 1873s were initially chambered in .44-40 Win., then the .32 WCF rifles were added later. Although very rare today, about 19,000 1873s were chambered in .22 rimfire.
Most of the standard-production 1873s were supplied in a blue finish. On these, the lever, hammer, fore-end cap and buttplate were color-casehardened. Some early guns, as well as a few made on special order, were supplied with color-casehardened receivers, while the barrel and magazine tube were blued or browned. The Model 1873 was offered as a carbine with a light-weight 20" round barrel or a musket with a 30" barrel, but the most popular version was a 24"-barreled rifle in both octagonal- and round-barrel configurations. Special-order barrel lengths were also available, as were a large variety of other options, such as special sights, fancy wood, half-octagon/half-round barrels and checkering.
Replica 1873s are produced today by A. Uberti in Italy. They have become very popular with Cowboy Action shooters and are imported into the United States by firms such as Cimarron Firearms, Navy Arms, EMF, Taylor’s and Co., and Stoeger, to name but a few.
—David R. Chicoine
This “Questions & Answers” was featured in the August 2006 issue of American Rifleman. At time of publication, "Questions & Answers" was compiled by Staff, Ballistics Editor William C. Davis, Jr., and Contributing Editors: David Andrews, Hugh C. Birnbaum, Bruce N. Canfield, David R. Chicoine, O. Reid Coffield, Charles Q. Cutshaw, Charles M. Fagg, Angus Laidlaw, Evan P. Marshall, Charles E. Petty, Robert B. Pomeranz, O.D., Jon R. Sundra, Jim Supica, A.W.F. Taylerson, John M. Taylor and John W. Treakle.
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